TOWARDS THE END of the last war, my sister Nancy was dining with Chips Channon. The guest of honour was Field Marshal Lord Wavell. After the ladies lefi the dining room Nancy imagined a wonderfully interesting conversation might be going on, with up-to-date war news such as one never saw in the newspapers. The doors were opened for the coffee to come in, and she strained to hear what was being said. 'Just a narrow edging of white', came Cecil Beaton's well-known braying voice.
Of course she screamed with laughter when telling it, but they were disappointed screams. There is a lot of Nancy in this story: love of political gossip, eagerness to be in the know, fascination with witty homosexuals, and her unrivalled talent for reproducing the amusement of a social occasion.